Archive | September 2012

Battle of the Beauty Boxes- Beauty Army July Box

When I reviewed my June box from Beauty Army I gave them a bit of a bad rap, I decided to give them another month to redeem themselves and boy have they! I love this months box.  The advantage of Beauty Army is that you get to pick 6 out of 9 products to receive the following month. You also have the option for them to surprise you.  What I also learned is that while you are making your selection a description pops up letting you know exactly what you will be getting. They even added an opt out feature so if there is nothing you are interested in you won’t be charged for that month. My only complaint is I wish they gave you a better selection.  Below is a picture of what was offered in the August box.

You can see that 4 of the 9 options are for Bath and Body Works Body wash, each a different scent. If you like scented body wash this a great deal but if you don’t you are not left with too many other choices.  In this case I would normally opt out for a month but I thought the body washes would be good for gift baskets, etc.

So onto July’s Box!

M academia Nut Hair Healing Oil Treatment 4.2 oz $18.95 Our Healing Oil Treatment is a therapeutic hair oil perfect for all hair types and is especially beneficial to dry, damaged hair.Intense nourishment for tangle & frizz free hair, Hair that is ultra-smooth, manageable & shiny, Natural UV protection extends the life of color treatments, Reduced drying time by an amazing 40-50%

Review – I am in love with this Hair Treatment. I only use a very small amount, about 1/4 tsp so 4 ounces will last quite awhile. It smells good, leaves my hair shiny, soft, silky, and with less frizz and fly aways. I try to let my hair air dry as much as I can and I feel that the hair oil did help reduce drying time. I absolutely will buy this product again.

Cellceuticals Ceractive 2 oz $47.50 CerActive Moisture + barrier repair skin treatment is a deep penetrating moisture and barrier repair treatment that works between surface cells to soothe dry skin and provide long-lasting hydration. This moisture and barrier repair treatment replenishes essential barrier lipids (ceramides and fatty acids), humectants, and anti-irritants to help stregthen skin’s water lipid barrier while providing deep hydration and skin-soothing properties.

Review – This was a nice light lotion that gave the perfect amount of moisture without feeling greasy. Do I look 10 years younger? Are my fine lines gone? Can’t really say but I did like this lotion, it absorbed well and didn’t leave my skin feeling coated.

Atzen Lip & Eye Emulsion .5 oz  $75 Calms tired eyes instantly; numerous peptides & retinyl palmitate energize wrinkle reducing activity. Dark circles & discoloration due to hormones & sun damage virtually disappear over time. Reduces puffiness & hydrates.

Review – I love this eye cream, first off it is very light and a little goes a long way. You may balk at the $75 price tag but that small amount will probably last you a good 6 months. I didn’t notice much around my eyes but I did notice that my lips felt softer with less pealing and cracking.

Delizioso Skincare Mangosteen & Acai Super Anti-Aging Facial Cream 1oz $58 100% Natural Mangosteen & Acai extracts along with Alpha Hydroxy Acids use a potent anti-aging system of antioxidants to perfect dull skin. Organic oils nourish while aloe and pure juices of cucumber and blueberry rehydrate. As you apply the moisturizer Vita Burst Beads infused with a potent dose of Vitamin E, Acai, and Mangosteen pop and start to act immediately. This technology helps keep the potent ingredients at their very peak of action.

Review – This is a nice cream but it has a strong vanilla scent that I find a bit overpowering for a face cream, as a scented hand lotion fine but not on my face. The scent lasts quite awhile also. I found myself sneezing throughout the day.

Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil 1 oz $32  A naturally occurring oil that promotes elasticity in the skin. As we age, its production diminishes. This key component of our sebum helps boost cell regeneration and oxygenation, leaving your face looking healthy and radiant.

Review– I don’t know what I like more, this or the Macademia nut oil. I was a little surprised since I have oily skin whether I would like this or not. The sample bottle came with a built in dropper that took up the perfect amount. Probably about 0.25 ml. A really small amount. It was a light oil that absorbed quickly into my skin. I felt well moisturized but was amazed that after a minute or two there was no oily greasy feeling like I have with other facial lotions. I have been very happy with this product and will be purchasing more in the future!

I have included a link for all of these products to my Amazon store in case you are interested in trying them yourself!

If you would like to subscribe to Beauty Army and receive your own beauty box, please click this link! Beauty Army.

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Battle of the Beauty Boxes- Birchbox-July Box

So I finally found time to write up a review of the July Beauty Box from Birchbox.  Just a recap- Beauty boxes are a subscription service where you pay a fee and each month you receive a nice box in the mail full of sample beauty products and occasionally a full size product. So far I am having a lot of fun with these subscriptions, it is like getting a fun surprise in the mail each month that isn’t a bill.

I currently have two beauty box subscriptions and Birchbox is by far my favorite. If you are interest in signing up for your own subscription please click on the link so I get points for recommending you. Birch Box Subscription.  You can also read my original post about beauty boxes here. 

Below is a list of the products I received, a short description and my review. Enjoy!

Tea Forte Minteas 3 pack $9.95  Tea Forte, known for their stylish tisanes, is introducing clever mints that have both wellness and breath-sweetening properties. All-natural and sugar-free, Minteas are infused with organic green tea, herbs, and fruit extracts to give you an instant antioxidant boost.

Review- SO not impressed, the mints do have a nice light flavor but it is so light I don’t know how they would freshen your breath. I will stick to Altoids which are also a lot cheaper.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner $15 Twiggy fans, rejoice: this London-based brand’s liquid liners let you create mod looks in a flash. Rather than frustrating us with hard-to-control brush tips, they feature a pen-style applicator that’s completely goofproof. Give your basic black a break and experiment with rich Olive or punchy Turquoise. They’re guaranteed to make your eyes pop.

Review – This was  a very nice eyeliner pen, easy to use and apply. The eyeliner also lasted all day with no smudging or flaking unlike the brand I used to use. I am trying to lighten up my eye look and don’t use black eyeliner anymore otherwise this would certainly be on my list.

Alterna BAMBOO® UV+ Color Protection Fade-Proof Fluide 2.5 oz $24 This fade-proof finishing gloss is the next generation of hair protection. Not only does it strengthen dry or brittle strands, but it also helps protect your hard-earned color from sun damage. Use it regularly to keep your hue true and healthy until your next appointment: it’s clinically proven to help retain color and brightness for 60 washes. If you don’t color your hair, you can still use this product to keep strands supple and shiny.

Review- I have only used this product twice and must say I love it, it goes on nice and light, smells good, and it seems to help keep my frizz down. I color my hair red which fades quickly, since I have not used this product regularly I cannot attest to the fade protection properties. Honestly would I purchase this? Probably not, mainly because of the price and I prefer another product I received in a later beauty box called Macadamia hair oil.

Supergoop!® City Sunscreen Serum – 1.5 oz $42Day-to-day sun exposure requires the same precautions as an afternoon spent poolside. This light yet powerful serum fulfills that everyday need. Both a moisturizer and a broad-spectrum SPF 30, it fights the signs of premature aging—think fine lines and sunspots—and prevents future photo-damage from UV rays. Built for year-round use, it’s great for layering under foundation. The mattifying formula can also stand alone on the days you’re not wearing makeup.

Review – None, sorry, I have to honestly say I have not tried this product yet, I put the sample in my purse to have for emergency sun screen.  I do like the idea of having a moisturizing sun screen that is also mattifying.

Harvey Prince Hello – 50 ml $55 Allow us to introduce you to your new warm weather scent. For their latest fragrance, the brother duo behind Harvey Prince decided to mimic the joy of waking up to a warm day with the sun shining and the flowers blooming. The resulting blend is an energizing mix of citrus and floral notes that will keep you optimistic even when you get up on the wrong side of the bed.

 

Birchbox Exclusive Earbuds $10 Whether we’re jogging through the park or powering through a laptop session, earbuds are one of our constant accessories. So we started thinking: why stick with the same boring white pair we’ve been using for years? We designed these custom pink and green or pink and blue neon earbuds so we can rock out to our favorite tunes in style. They’re extra-durable and extra-comfy—now that’s music to our ears.

Review – This was a nice surprise since I needed to buy an extra pair of earbuds to keep in my gym bag. These work great and were very comfortable. I just wish they came in pink!

I am still in love with Birchbox and plan on keeping my subscription for awhile, I find that I always get my moneys worth from them, Heck my monthly subscription is $10 and I probably would have spent that much on earbuds alone!

Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Packets-Microwave Version

I was searching for an easy recipe that my husband could make for dinner.  He is wonderful at making dinner as long as I do the shopping, find a recipe for him, then clean up the kitchen.  I usually pick something simple with few ingredients, little prep (less mess for me to clean), and ideally involves cooking on the grill.

Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Kabob Packets

In my search I came across this recipe (See above picture) for Grilled Pineapple Chicken Packets . It looked good and sounded simple enough. I bought all the ingredients, printed the recipe and left him instructions. of course something came up and he wasn’t able to make it.  Since I am not allowed near the grill since that is the man kitchen, also it is so old and with my luck if I tried to turn it on it would probably rebel, blow up and catch the patio on fire. So I decided to adjust the recipe and cook it in my Covered Baker from Pampered Chef. I am not a Pampered Chef sales rep but I love their products. They are expensive but so worth the investment.  What I love about the covered baker is that you can bake in it or use it in the microwave and food comes out great. Because it is made from stoneware it also keeps your food warm longer while sitting on the table.

Pineapple Chicken 

  • 1/3 cup pineapple preserves- I used Orange marmalade because I had it in the fridge. 
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes (1 lb)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (Drain the juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. I placed the first 4 ingredients in my dish and mixed them together. In the future I would recommend doing this is a separate bowl and pouring on top of the chicken and vegetables but I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to dirty another bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cut up the chicken and vegetables, mix everything together and add to dish. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables.  I added broccoli since I am trying to eat more green vegetables. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Cook in the microwave covered for 14 minutes or until done. Every 4-5 minutes stir the chicken and vegetables to insure even cooking.  If you don’t have a covered baker bake in the over at 350 for 30-45 minutes. No liquid was added, the liquid all came from the chicken and vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Serve over rice and enjoy.

The recipe was quick and easy.  I think it would have been better on the grill but love that it is so versatile. A lot of liquid was produced by the chicken so you might want to add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the beginning to thicken it while it cooks.  The chicken was still tender and juicy.

 

 

 

Pure Evil in a Jar

Have you heard of Biscof? If you haven’t you are so missing out. I first read about it on a blog by Susie Freaking Homemaker. After reading the blog about Biscoff Banana Bread, I was intrigued and made a mental note to look for the product. Then fate sent me a 15% off coupon for Cost Plus World Market, while perusing the aisles for something exotic to try I found this magical evil little jar.

Basically this is ground up cookies that are mixed to the consistency of peanut butter, or I should say cookie butter. What could be more delicious?  This creamy nectar is so delicious I almost ate the entire jar with a spoon. No joke, I couldn’t stop eating it. This is where the evil comes in. I find this is great on bagels, I melted it over some warm apple bread pudding, on toast, and my favorite, straight out of the jar. If you visit the official Biscoff website  you can find some amazing recipes and the history behind for this bit of heaven. This wonder spread out does Nutella with its deliciousness. Oh man imagine if Nutella was swirled with Biscoff? You got your Nutella in my Biscoff!  I think my taste buds just exploded at the idea.

So While I was licking any remnants out of the jar I thought perhaps I should read the label. I am so sad to say this product has no redeeming nutritional value what so ever. Evil, I tell you, pure evil. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Finally a cure for dandruff!

For most of my adult life I have had a terrible time with shampoo. I have a very sensitive scalp and at times will have severe allergic reactions to various shampoos. I also have very oily hair that needs to be washed almost every day.  My reaction to shampoos will be a mild dandruff to full on itching burning, flakey red skin. I get huge red blotches on my forehead and have scratched so bad I get sores.  The worst was one shampoo that felt like someone poured acid on my scalp.

Over the years I have tried cheap shampoos, expensive saloon shampoos, Tar shampoos(man those stink), special scalp treatments, washing my hair more and less often, even dish soap. I would get some relief but then after a week or two my scalp would flair up again and my sholders would look like I just came in from a snow storm. After spending a ton of money on expensive shampoos I came across a pin on pinterest about using apple cider vinegar to cure dandruff.  The pin lead me to this article 4 Reasons to Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Your Scalp Treatments by Josh Peterson, Planet Green

I had the vinegar so I thought why not. I had an old applicator bottle I kept from the last time I colored my hair. I liked the bottle because it has a comb tip that was easier to use. I recomend you buy some Loreal Excellence hair color just to get this great applicator bottle,  I filled the bottle with half vinegar and half water. After washing my hair I used the applicator bottle to apply the  vinegar rinse  directly on my scalp. It was a little hard to do so I took a bit of conditioner add it to my hair and the applicator ran through it easily. I let it sit while I finished my shower then rinsed.  Cider Vinegar is supposed to be a natural hair conditioner and helps to close the hair cuticle to cut down on frizz and breakage. My hair felt dry so I added another bit of conditioner and rinsed. My hair felt clean and smooth but I smelled like a salad.  This scent worried me as I didn’t’ want to spend the day smelling like vinegar. Later that day I was worried so I asked my co-monkeys and my favorite husband if I smelt funny and they said no funnier than usual.

A bit about dandruff. Dandruff can be caused by multiple things dry scalp, skin irritation, fungus/yeast, and/or a build up of oils.  Vinegar helps to clear away the excessive oil and is a natural anti-fungal. It is also supposed to restore the ph level to your scalp which keeps it healthy and prevents dandruff.

After I dried my hair my scalp felt great, my hair was shinny and smooth and my head didn’t burn or itch! Yeah! There were still some small flakes but I was thankful my shoulders didn’t look as if I had a staring role in an Al Pacino movie.

I continued to do some research on several sites and put together this treatment plan.  I used an old dish soap bottle to keep the vinegar mixture well stocked in my shower. In the picture you can see the applicator bottle that I love, the comb makes it so much easier to get the vinegar to my scalp.

Prep hair – Wash hair as normal, apply a small amount of conditioner and rinse, this helps the applicator bottle go through your hair easier.  Use an applicator bottle to really get into the scalp, you may want to massage in slightly so it gets in. If you don’t have an applicator bottle you can just use a cup and pour it slowly onto the scalp.  Let the vinegar sit on your scalp 5 minutes or longer. Rinse with cool water.  Warning! Be very careful to not get any in your eyes, believe me it is not fun. 

Week 1 -Start with a 50% vinegar solution (1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water). Use the vinegar rinse each time you wash your hair. I found I only needed about 1 ounce of the rinse to cover my scalp. I wash my hair every other day and noticed that with this treatment my hair seemed less oily on the second day. If this irritates your skin you may want to add more water.

Week 2 –  Use the rinse every other shampoo.

Week 3 – Use once a week.

Week 4 – Use once a month or as needed.  If you notice your dandruff acting up use the rinse more often.

Amazing! After all the money and experiments I had tried something that costs just pennies cleared up my dandruff. My skin reaction to shampoos has even calmed down a bit. It still flares up but no where near as bad as it used to be!  The best part is no one can make fun of how flaky I am! Well, perhaps just a little. 🙂

For even more dandruff fighting power try adding some dry herbs or essential oil to the vinegar rinse. Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage are supposed to be great for dandruff as well as Tea Tree oil.  Place herbs in a cheese cloth and let steep in the vinegar overnight. If you don’t have cheese cloth just strain before using.

Slow Cooker Apple Pie for Breakfast

OMG!!! This is amazing, I am in love with this recipe!

Reasons I love this recipe

  1.  I love the idea of using my slow cooker to wake up to a nice warm breakfast
  2. There are only 5 ingredients, (plus water).
  3. It is not sickly sweet.
  4. It is super easy
  5. It can be made ahead of time as a freezer meal.
  6. It is super versatile
  7. SO much better than store bought instant oatmeal.
  8. It is healthy and delicious!!

Ok enough hype on to the recipe. The original recipe I found at goodrecipesonline.com but I tweaked it a bit. The original recipe did not have any sugar but I thought it needed a touch more.

Apple Pie for Breakfast 

  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 3 diced apples
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups water

Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker, mix, set and walk away. Bake for 8 hours on low. Wake up to the wonderful aroma of apple pie.

That’s it, the hardest part was pealing the apples.

Now some hints:

  1. I used me new slow cooker with a timer, after 8 hours it switches to warm so my breakfast was not over cooked or burnt. I highly recommend you have some type of timer on your slow cooker if you use this recipe.
  2. I added an extra cup of water to the original recipe to also help avoid the dish from becoming dry and burning.
  3. I took the left overs and packaged it in freezer containers so that I have several healthy breakfasts ready when I am running late.
  4. I made it without the sugar this time, hubby loved it and thought it was perfect. I thought it needed a bit of sweetening so next time I will add 1/4 cup brown sugar and some nuts! Definitely some nuts.

This is such an easy recipe that can easily be changed up.

  • Try using bananas and nuts instead of apples, or any type of fresh or frozen berries.
  • If making a freezer meal don’t add any liquid until you are ready to cook.
  • Use milk or coconut milk in place of some of the water
  • Top with milk, maple sugar, nuts, fresh fruit, whatever!

If you have not had steal cut oats you so need to try them.

  • The have a heartier texture and are less mushy than regular oatmeal.
  • They are harder to breakdown then regular oats so they help to stabilize blood sugar.
  • Only have 150 calories per 1/2 cup.
  •  Good source of complex carbohydrates
  • Provides 10 g of soluble fiber, which works to lower cholesterol per 1/2 cup
  • Provides 14 g of protein per 1/2 cup
  • Good source of Vitamin B and Iron   Read more: www.livestrong.com  

Update: My lovely brother was balking at the 1/4 cup of brown sugar but I don’t think he realized that this was not a single serving.  To help him out I used fatsecret.com to figure out the nutritional information.  I estimated six 3/4  cup servings in the recipe.

Main points: 190 Calories, 4 gm of fiber, 3.5 gm of protein, 9% of your daily Iron- Not bad for something that tastes like dessert.

I ate a doughnut today and I didn’t like it

I ate a doughnut today and I didn’t like it, so why did I eat it? I don’t know why, perhaps I’ll die. (channeling old nursery rhymes)

Seriously, Why did I eat it if I wasn’t enjoying it? Don’t get me wrong, I love doughnuts, I could eat half a dozen of them on my own. I can’t walk past the doughnut shop without drooling uncontrollably.

Today I walked into the break room at work and I saw a box of these evil fried and sugar coated spawns of Satan and I felt compelled to take one.  I took a bite and found it stale and overly sweet but I felt compelled to finish it. When I was done I started thinking why didn’t I just stop. Why didn’t I just throw it away.  I started to think about all the food I had eaten and not enjoyed but ate it anyway then felt guilty about it.  I remembered another dessert I had recently eaten only to think that it wasn’t worth the calories, yet I finished my plate.

Is it that I felt that since I had taken it I couldn’t waste the food by throwing it away? Previous food came to mind, was I afraid of insulting the hostess or someone else? Was I afraid it would be my last meal and I would be forced to eat only Brussels sprouts and protein shakes the rest of my life? Was it that I was forced to clean my plate when I was young because their were starving children in China? Never quite got that one and could only think about how I would gladly send those poor starving children my vegetables.

It makes me wonder about all the food choices I have made over my life. How many calories were wasted on food that I did not enjoy?  How many times did I feel compelled to finish my food? How many of us have sat in a restaurant, fully satiated only to continue to eat because there was food on the plate?

I think it is time to start looking at what I eat, how I eat, and why I eat the things I do.  It is time to just say no to finds I don’t enjoy and to not feel compelled to finish. I say that it is ok to throw out food that you do not like. It is ok to ask the waiter to clear your dishes so you don’t continue to pick at a plate. It is ok to give yourself permission to not eat/finish/taste/try something that you do not enjoy.

It is ok to just say NO!